After leaving Australia around 9am December 23, we got back to Oahu around 9am December 23! I guess it's only fair since we lost December 16...
At the left is Jeff and me with Gilbert. The background is fake, but the koala is real! He is full-grown, warm and soft and smells like eucalyptus. The picture was taken at Dreamworld, a theme park in Queensland. In the continental US, we're very spoiled as far as rides go, but I can't think of many US zoos that would let you snuggle the animals!
Speaking of, they also let us feed the kangaroos! Before we went to Dreamworld, Jeff and I did a bit of bushwalking in the subtropical rainforest - the Hinterland area that is just west of the posh hotels of Surfer's Paradise. The first day we saw the Natural Bridge, which is on the Binna Burra side of Lamington National Park. Just beyond the waterfall is a glow worm cave. We were there during the day, so it wasn't dark enough to see them fluoresce, but we did see a bunch of bats flying around!
As you can see from the picture to the right, Jeff loves Spongebob.
We rented a car, and Jeff enjoyed driving on the other side of the road. Australia was a lot like America except some little difference...for example the sign to the right that perplexed both Jeff and me at the public toilets at Mount Tamborine. The water was definitely discoloured, by the way. Ew. And just so you know, you can't tell whether the water swishes the other direction in the toilet because they flush pretty much straight down!
I'll close with the picture Jeff took of the flying tiger at Tiger Island at Dreamworld. They had a tiger show that really reminded us that tigers really are just huge cats with big claws and sharp teeth. If you look at our photo album, you can see a white bengal tiger climbing a big post as well as a few other animals like emus, the leech that vampired my left foot (I didn't get the one that got my right foot), mullets, etc. We saw Wallabies when we were hiking around in Binna Burra, but the pictures were very dark - suffice to say that they are little kangaroos and very cute. I wanted to take one home with us. I don't think customs would know how to handle that though!
Beside Jeff, I am actually there with my head stuck in the sand, much like an ostrich, but we cropped that part out!
After Thanksgiving, I hit the landslide into finals, so I've pretty much had no life since then. We've also lost two part timers at the office, so I am picking up more hours. After my finals we're heading to Australia, so our next entry will most likely be post Australia, maybe before Christmas and maybe not. So Mele Hamikimaka from Jeff and me!
I returned from underway the day before Thanksgiving. Jess had been entertaining my parents and Scott, of course, but due to the lack of preparation time, we ate Thanksgiving lunch in the Paul Hamilton Wardroom with the Captain and his family and a few other of the ship's Officers. Afterward we went to Kaena Point (below) and enjoyed the sunset on the beach. We spent Friday on the North Shore prior to taking the folks to the airport; it was sad to see them go, but I think we all had a good time together.
The past couple of weeks have flown by; I think we are using the time to get used to each other, and this is the longest stretch we've had together since August. With the exception of a brief trip this weekend, it'll be the longest we'll have together prior to me deploying. We are, of course, looking forward to visiting Gold Coast, Australia in the next few weeks, but since we will be back before the holiday, we're thinking of spending Christmas on the beach. This is a flower we saw on a black sand beach on Hawaii back in October. It was isolated, and I thought it was amazing to survive where it was.